Report to Congress on John Lewis-class Oiler Program

February 12, 2021 10:08 AM

The following is the Feb. 9, 2021 Congressional Research Service report, Navy John Lewis (TAO-205) Class Oiler Shipbuilding Program: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy procured its first John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler in FY2016, and a total of six have been procured through FY2021, including the fifth and sixth in FY2020. The first six TAO-205s are being procured under a block buy contract that was authorized by Section 127 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1356/P.L. 114-92 of November 25, 2015).

The Navy wants to procure a total of 20 TAO-205s. The ships have an estimated unit procurement cost of roughly $650 million when purchased at a rate of two ships per year, and something more than that when purchased at a rate of one ship per year. The ships are being built by General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (GD/NASSCO) of San Diego, CA.

Under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, no TAO-205 class ship was requested for procurement in FY2021, and the Navy did not request any FY2021 procurement or advance procurement (AP) funding for additional TAO-205s. As part of its action on the Navy’s FY2021 budget, Congress provided $20.0 million in procurement funding for the TAO-205 program for “affordability initiatives,” meaning design or other work that could help reduce the procurement costs of future TAO-205s.

The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission projected that no TAO-205 class ship would be requested for procurement in FY2022, and that the next TAO-205 class ship (i.e., the seventh ship in the class) would be requested for procurement in FY2023. Under a draft version of an FY2022 30-year shipbuilding plan that was released by the Trump Administration on December 9, 2020, however, the next TAO-205 class ship (i.e., the seventh ship in the class) would be requested for procurement in FY2022.

Issues for Congress include the following:

  • the potential impact of the COVID-19 situation on the execution of U.S. military shipbuilding programs, including the TAO-205 program;
  • whether to procure no TAO-205 class ship, one TAO-205 class ship, or two TAO-205s in FY2022;
  • the total number of TAO-205s the Navy will require in coming years to support its operations, particularly in light of the Navy’s new Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) operating concept;
  • issues regarding the TAO-205 program discussed in a June 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report assessing major DOD acquisition programs; and
  • whether to encourage or direct the Navy to build TAO-205s with more ship self-defense equipment than currently planned by the Navy.

Download the document here.

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